You can have the greatest product ever, but if no one knows about you, chances of success are next to nothing.

Marketing is one of the best things that you can do for your business. When you market your product or service, you are getting it in front of the people who will actually buy it.

Nevertheless, startups tend to ignore or forget the importance of marketing. In fact, when running low on funds, organizations usually look to cut marketing costs.

This could be a dumb move.

But let’s say we can’t escape such decisions and you’re left with a meager marketing budget. How do you go about optimizing your marketing activities?

Here are best practices for every marketer stifled by a small budget

Your first priority every day should be to market your business

It’s a simple equation really. No sales, no business.

Since you don’t intend to be out of business so soon, it’s necessary for you to prioritize marketing.

Avoid complacency. Even on the days when nothing seems to go your way, perhaps even, especially on such days, don’t let up with your marketing. Even when revenue is good and you’re really busy, don’t get complacent.

The point is this – decreasing your marketing investment to save money will hurt you both short and long term. Be relentless. Attack, attack and attack. Even the secrets to success in a tepid economy: Expand your marketing.

Use a diversified, integrated approach

There’s a reason professional marketers swear by the integrated marketing approach.

Consumers have a tough job choosing between all of the options available to them. Every day, thousands of marketing messages vie for their attention through an ever-growing variety of media. The businesses that communicate a cohesive and consistent message across these channels have a better chance of breaking through the noise.

Integrated marketing ties them all together under a single unified strategy. Your marketing efforts will naturally have different objectives, but a unified strategy coordinates them so they work together to support larger goals.

Whenever possible, remember a single marketing medium should not eat up the entire budget. You should have a marketing mix of public relations and paid advertising.

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This is necessitated by consumer overload. Fragmented messages don’t stick with customers and prospects who are already confronted with too many choices. The trick to successful messaging is consistency as well as a diversity of mediums being implemented.

Strive to reach your target seven times

In messaging, frequency counts with quality. In most cases, the buying decision is reached after the prospect experiences seven positive messages.

For the best return on your hard earned dollars, you must build your brand as inexpensively as possible. So, don’t feel bad about repeating your message across media.

Get the right marketing help

A lot of entrepreneurs, in the bid to save money, will try to do a lot of things themselves.

Well, keep your ambition away from the marketing. Enlist the aid of an objective expert who is focused on getting you an ROI.

The expert should and will have the right experience, the tools and the connections required by your business to break through the noise and gain attention. Unless you have a track record of marketing and promoting new products successfully, your gut instinct might be way off when it comes to marketing decisions.

Small business owners often make the mistake of spending money in the wrong places, not as investments in where their best prospects are.

It’s better to hire an expert who knows what he’s doing than a noob who’s going to cost you money. With the right kind of people handling your marketing, you’ll spend less on unprofitable experiments.

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Have a social conscience

Everyone is passionate about something. Today more than ever, there are more people supporting social causes. So don’t underestimate the power of cause-related marketing because it can get you a double-digit percentage in higher sales.

There’s something marketers call the tribe theory. People like to identify with other people with similar interests. They build communities around social causes e.g. weight loss, gender equality, environmental conservation and so on. And communities have been known to get behind brands/businesses they believe “get” them and their causes. You can imagine how beneficial this kind of support can be to a business.

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Pick a cause you’re truly interested in contributing to. Because, if you try to fake it, they’ll know and the backlash from the community could be devastating.

Stay focused, mind your business

A trap many small business owners, especially startups, fall into is being too concerned about the competition. Have you seen a sprinter who’s glancing at the other runners besides him in the race? If you have, he definitely didn’t win that race.

While it’s good to keep tabs on your industry and all major stakeholders, it is also important for you to maintain your originality and creativity. In order to retain

In order to retain the safe distance between your ideas and “what everyone else is doing”, try not to obsess too much over your competition. Don’t become one of those reactive companies that mirror their competitors. What if your competition is wrong and they’re focusing on the wrong things?

Remember, you’re in a marathon race. Don’t be obsessive about looking over your shoulder to beat your competitors.

Be defensive – protect your turf

In all sports, strong defenses win championships. In business, customer retention is a key ingredient for winning the market. Let’s face it, there are a finite number of customers in the market and everyone, including you is trying to win them over. .

Remember how much time and energy it took for you to get your best customers. ‘Don’t get careless or complacent with customer retention. Your competition will be too glad to take them off your hands.

It is a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. That’s why establishing strong relationships with your customer base is crucial. One of the ways you can do that is by keeping in touch with people through email marketing.

Ask customers for their email address when they visit your store or website. Then, make your communications informative, helpful and professional — something your customers will look forward to receiving.

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When faced with a choice – whether to chase new business or to take care of lucrative, repeat customers – go for the repeat customers. That proverb, a bird in the hand worth two in the bush, comes to mind. Loyalty is usually rewarded and leads to good word-of-mouth advertising.

You can actually invigorate sales with customer retention and referral strategies. Optimize your strategies for word-of-mouth advertising, email marketing, and customer service.

Do strategic partnerships

Of course, this only works if you have some kind of established customer base already. The idea is to get together with a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote.

This way, you give each other access to your customers offering them products and services at some good discounts. You can use coupons, fliers, reciprocal website links, bundled promotions or social media platforms.

Sometimes, your services will align, sometimes they won’t but that’s fine. The important thing is to keep increasing the awareness of your brand and putting your product in front of more people.

Network

Networking ties in nicely with the point about partnerships.

Building a successful business takes a lot of time and drive, so it’s good to have a network of friends and associates to draw energy from and keep you going. The benefits are numerous.

Networking is a great way to share ideas and knowledge. There’s a likelihood that there will be those who have already been where you are today. This provides you with an opportunity to learn and avoid some of the common pitfalls they experienced.

Networking also exposes you to opportunities. Whether it’s a referral, offer partnership or request for your service or product, networking positions you for good business opportunities when they come along.

Remember that relationship is a two-way dance. You should also endeavour to recommend other entrepreneurs and their products to people when opportunities come up. Networking requires a time commitment and it doesn’t provide instant gratification, but a strong network is one of the greatest assets any business-person can have.